There are a lot of stats //thrown around when it comes to marriage. Quite honestly, we may have heard them so often that we’ve kind of become numb to them. And you can be sure, as real as they are, we never think that we will be one of the casualties when we are standing in front of friends and family sharing those special vows. We don’t say “I Do” thinking “It won’t (last).”
Being bombarded with numbers can make us numb to their meaning, but it’s important that we keep them in front of us. It’s like telling people that smoke about the hazards that await them if they decide to continue. At least they’ve been informed. Here are the 2009 statistics from the Center for Disease Control, which houses the National Center for Health Statistics.
- Number of marriages: 2,077,000
- Marriage rate: 6.8 per 1,000 total population
- Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 population (44 reporting states, plus Washington, D.C.)
Here’s the key: 3.4 divorces versus 6.8 marriages. I was pretty good at math growing up, but even those who are math-challenged see that’s a pretty high divorce rate. How are we doing? If no one thinks they’ll be a casualty when they wed, but millions become one year after year, what happens between “I do” and “It’s over”?
What can you do to make your marriage last? Perhaps we would be wise to do what experts at identifying counterfeit bills do — study the real bills to identify the bad.
In an article previously published in FamilyLife’s Marriage Memo newsletter, couples who had been married 50 years or longer shared their successes and how they beat the odds of becoming a casualty to divorce. Here are the 10 things that could help you to make your marriage work and last a lifetime:
1. You need a Savior. “We didn’t realize that it was two sinners who married each other. Two very sinful people who needed a Savior.” (Mona Sproull)
2. Stay committed to one another. “Love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment … no matter what, I will stand by your mom.” (Charles Powell)
3. Pray with your spouse. “Rather than each of us having ourselves at the center of our thinking, there enters a willingness to let God be at the center.” (Jerry Bell)
4. Forgive one another. “All I could think of was if God could forgive me of all of my sins, who am I not to forgive my husband.” (Joan Fortin)
5. Realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect husband or perfect wife. “Christ has given me understanding and lets me know that everyone does something wrong sometimes.” (Mattie Foy)
6. Have faith that God knows what He is doing.“A lot of people would ask me, ‘No children yet?’ And I’d say, ‘No, but I am sure having a good time telling you how to raise yours.’” (Jodie May)
7. Trust that God gives grace and direction as we trust Him. “How can a parent trust the Lord when they lose a child? It takes a lot of faith.” (Richard Long)
8. You’ll need to make compromises.“You can’t always have your way. I think that marriage should be a give and take situation.” (Nelda Davenport)
9. Be objective and take the emotion out of problem solving. “If I say something to you that’s disrespectful to you and I don’t really know it, you need to trust my heart.” (Mona Sproull)
10. Love your spouse. “The love comes from God.” (Mattie Foy)
Any of those just hit you right between the eyes? See any patterns? There’s probably nothing in this list that you don’t know or haven’t heard before. But when men and women who have been married more than 50 years share very similar reasons about what makes marriage work, you tend to take notes and pay attention. Do you want your marriage to work for the long haul? Then sit down and determine which one of these you (not your spouse) need to consider as your next step to solidifying your marriage? Now is never too late.